Challenging Times

Challenging Times

1 Sam 17:8-11 “And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”

Sometimes, when you are blessed by God, a challenge comes and all hell breaks loose. 

Rom 7:21 “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”

There is always a challenge when we try to do good. We have to deal with our own selfishness, the world, or the devil. To gain ground against sin, the pressures of the world, and against all those things that are coming against you, you’ve got to fight. 

New levels bring new devils. The devil doesn’t want to give up ground.

How do we fight an invisible enemy? We fight with prayer, fasting, God’s Word, consistency in choosing God’s way over our own. 

There are people in Scripture that tried to challenge God’s people. Korah challenged Moses. He thought what Moses was doing wasn’t enough. Moses told him not to do this. Moses tried to help Korah. Challenging him was like challenging God. 

Moses prayed and came up with a plan to show everybody whom God had chosen. The ground opened up and swallowed Korah and his men alive. 

There is a challenge that is coming against the people of God in our world today. Jesus came to arrange our thinking. 

Mat 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus challenged His disciples. Examine not just the attitude but also what they were doing. Altitude is determined by attitude. How high are you willing to climb? The level of good isn’t good enough. The enemy of great is ‘good enough.’ The biggest obstacle to hearing the words, ‘Well done,’ is thinking, ‘this is good enough.’ 

We are not to compare ourselves. Don’t think that you are supposed to be better than others and do more. Works don’t save us. But, when we are saved, we are saved to do good works. Back in Bible times, when a soldier asked somebody to carry his stuff one mile, Jesus said that was what was obligated. Jesus asks us to go beyond and do more than what is asked of you. Go that second mile. ‘Good enough’ is not ‘good enough.’ 

God is not thrilled about your ability to do what is required of you. Checking off a list of ‘to-do’s’ doesn’t impress God. 

In areas such as prayer, what are you doing? What about separation and holiness? What about your attitude? What about outreach? Personal devotion? 

90% of the will of God is to do what you already know to do is right. The challenge from the Lord is do a little more. Is the church worth fighting for? 

On the other hand, some things aren’t worth fighting for. What’s going on behind the scenes? 

When it comes to evil encroaching, the gloves must come off. If you feel pressured and pulled, what are you waiting for? What do you need in order to recognize that the church is worth fighting for? 

Elijah had a battle with the prophets of Baal to see who had the greatest God. When each built an altar, the One who sent down fire to burn up the sacrifice was the greatest God. 

‘Contend for the Faith.’ 

In boxing, the champion always has a contender. 

There are two kinds of faith, obeying and believing faith, and ‘the Faith,’ the doctrine, teaching, the things we live in, living out what Jesus taught. This is the kind of faith we fight for. The fight should continue because some things are worth fighting for. 

Gideon was challenged by an angel sent from God. He was called ‘Mighty man of battle.’ He said, ‘You’ve got the wrong guy.’ The angel replied, ‘But the Lord is with you.’ Gideon replied, ‘If God is with me, why am I in bondage?’ The angel said, ‘Go in this thy might.’ This attitude of faith is what God was looking for. The first thing that Gideon did was tear down the altars of false gods. 

Judges 7:2-8 “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. 8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.”

Gideon and his men won against impossible odds. We serve a God who is Light. He’s everywhere present at the same time. He can go around the earth in a single second ten times. That’s how fast light moves. If we shout, God will do the rest. What is God requiring of you right now? 

It’s a crisis out there right now, but the Lord will give us victory. Our families and our church are worth fighting for. 

In the beginning, Saul wasn’t a bad guy. 

1 Sam 11:1-2 “Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee. 2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.”

The evil Nahash wanted to keep the Israelites from being able to fight. 

1 Sam 11:3-7 “And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days’ respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee. 4 Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept. 5 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. 7 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.”

Saul had intentions to lead Israel to defeat the enemies. Saul wanted to fight for his people. So, he went and fought and won. 

How do we fight? 

Do something. Pray. Don’t just hop up on a hamster wheel. Do something that actually changes things. What good is it to do stuff if you don’t go with the Lord? If you do the right things and even though you’re not enough, if you put it into the Lord’s hands, He will multiply your efforts.

Are you able to pray? Are you able to read God’s Word? Are you able to post on FaceBook? Find something on YouTube that blessed you and post it. God will multiply it. Accept the challenge!

John F. Kennedy said, ‘In Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed to two symbols, one which means ‘danger’ and another which means ‘opportunity.’ 

Yes, there is danger, but there is also opportunity. If you have a dream from God, don’t let that dream die. There is opportunity. Learn the kind of faith that keeps the passion. Fight the good fight of faith. 

Winston Churchill said, ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going!’ 

The devil will bring depression, point out your faults and failures, but he’s a deceiver. Jesus said, ‘He has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come to bring you life.’ 

John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

There are broken dreams, broken down walls of Jerusalem. The enemy has come and occupied and torn down the walls and your dream is dead and God has forgotten you. God has NOT forgotten you or forsaken you. He is looking for a Nehemiah that will rise up and rebuild the walls and recognize that our God is no weaker today than He was when He caused all those miracles. 

When the enemy comes in, like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. Challenging times require a response. Somebody must be willing to rebuild those walls, go further, do something that will change lives and that God will multiply. 

We may not be able to reach people physically, but we can pray, we can text people, we can make a phone call, we can encourage and love people. 

Be what God has called you to be. Do what God wants you to do. 

More Questions for Personal or Group Study:

  1. What has been your biggest challenge during this COVID19 crisis?
  2. How has the Lord blessed you during this pandemic?
  3. Read Rom 12:18-21. What are the instructions in these verses? How can we respond to the current crisis with wisdom and love? 
  4. What are some specific things you can do to encourage someone else?

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio. 

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.